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Educator Development

How to Set Achievable Goals for the New Year

Happy new year! The beginning of January is often a time when people make resolutions or set goals they want to achieve over the next year. Maybe you are already planning ways you want to grow personally and professionally. Working toward your goals can help you feel a greater sense of accomplishment and have more hope for the future.

It’s normal to get excited about setting goals, only to realize they may not be achievable as time goes on. Create opportunities for success by establishing realistic goals with the tips below.

Connect your goals to a reason and purpose

We know that as an educator, you are passionate about teaching and your work is deeply meaningful to you. As you think about your goals for the upcoming year, connect them to a greater purpose and a reason you want to achieve them. Knowing why you want to accomplish something will help you stay motivated by aligning your goal with your values and intrinsic motivations.

Take some time to connect each of your goals or resolutions to your “why,” and write them down to articulate how they align with your values. For example, your goal could be to speak or present at one educator conference this year. Your “why,” or purpose for this goal, could be to mentor and help other educators. That intrinsic motivation to help others will give you greater perseverance in meeting your goals. See how these Ambassador Teachers have given back and mentored other educators for inspiration.

Break down goals into achievable segments

We can all get excited about a new goal or habit we want to start, only to get overwhelmed when we realize we’ve tried to change too much, too fast. This can lead to discouragement or wanting to give up. 

When thinking about what you want to achieve this year, break your big goals down into realistic, smaller goals that are doable with the current time and resources you have. For example, if you want to travel around the U.S. during your time as an Ambassador Teacher, you may not be able to road-trip across the country right away. However, you can make a more realistic goal of completing one weekend trip over the next semester to a place you want to visit. This way, you are meeting a larger goal of traveling while taking the first step to making that a reality.

Be flexible and be kind to yourself

As you create your goals or resolutions, remember to be flexible with how you achieve them, especially when life gets in the way. For example, you may set a goal to exercise every morning, but you may find that it becomes challenging to work out in the morning without feeling rushed on your way to school. Give yourself the flexibility to adjust when and where you exercise so you can realistically achieve your goals and not give up. Freedom to change or adapt will help you work toward your goals even when it seems like you are hitting roadblocks.

Maybe most importantly, be kind and gentle with yourself! If you feel negative thoughts or emotions creeping in because you aren’t meeting your goals, try to stop the negative spiral. Think about how you would talk to your students about meeting their goals—you would probably encourage them to have a growth mindset and to keep trying. Make sure you give yourself the same grace and encouragement as you work toward your goals.

We hope your new year is full of personal and professional growth! If you are looking for more ideas on how to develop as an educator, see these blog posts:

What are you hoping to achieve in 2023? We’d love to hear about your goals and encourage you along the way! Join our United We Teach Community of Practice to get support and connect with like-minded global educators.

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